The condemned Town Building-Police Station was torn down Friday, erasing another longtime downtown landmark that fell victim to the tornado two years ago.
The demolition by Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield began on May 31.
With each passing day, chunks of the 1925 building disappeared. Just a few days ago, it was a hollowed-out shell – interior walls could be seen with notices posted on them, giving passersby a glimpse of how the inside looked just before the tornado struck on June 1, 2011, and ripped part of the building’s roof off.
Watching the demolition on Friday was Sharon A. Allen, who managed to get six bricks from the contractor the previous day. She plans to place them around a photo she has of the old building and will mail another to her son in Texas.
“It’s such a huge piece of history. It’s kind of sad to see it go. The town’s gone through a lot of changes,” Allen said. “The new building will be nice. It’s progress. It will be nice to have a new Town Hall.”
Before it housed town offices and the police department, the building was a school – a high school, then an elementary school. Allen said her husband graduated in 1962, and she worked in the cafeteria for five years when it was known as Main Street School. Her sons also attended Main Street School.
Town Administrator Gretchen E. Neggers said debris removal will continue after the structure is completely razed, then the site will be stabilized. Neggers said geotechnical borings will be completed to discover what is beneath the building. Depending on what is found, the placement and construction of the new building could be affected, she said.
Neggers said she felt sad to finally see the building come down.
“As anxious as I am to see the town move forward in its recovery and rebuilding from the June 1, 2011 tornado, I can’t help but feel some melancholy to see the building demolished. It was an important anchor on Main Street for 90 years and the new building, however functional, will not replace the old one in its stature,” Neggers wrote in an email.
“I worked at the building many, many hours for 19 years and I still miss working there and being able to look out my window onto Main Street. I know residents in town will miss it too as the building held memories for everyone either as a high school, elementary school or town offices. So it is a time that is both sad and hopeful for the future.”
Neggers said the project hopefully will go out to bid this summer so construction bids can be awarded in September. Construction could begin in the fall, with an October 2014 completion date.
Voters last year approved borrowing $3.4 million for a new 23,500-square-foot combination Town Building-Police Station; with a $6.9 million insurance settlement due to the tornado damage, the project totals $10.3 million.
Neggers said there are approximately 250 bricks from the old building that will be made available to residents.